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September 2017

During August’s all-college meeting to kick off the new academic year, I announced a theme for the coming months: Engaged Empathy. I will be touching on that theme in my newsletter messages throughout the year, and highlighting examples of how our college’s faculty, staff, and students use the arts to make connections and show understanding and compassion.

For this issue, I want to highlight a new website ( we created as part of the University’s current fundraising campaign, “A Greater Penn State for 21st-Century Excellence.” The campaign is focused on the three core imperatives of a public university: open doors, create transformative experiences, and impact the world.

Opening the doors to a Penn State education is key to both bringing talented students to the University, and also helping them to graduate on time and on track to successful careers. The idea of “opening doors” is also a perfect example of engaged empathy. Many of us understand what it’s like to have student loans, or to have to pick one school over another due to financial constraints. As alumni and friends of the College of Arts and Architecture, you know first-hand that degrees from our college require long hours spent in studios, labs, and rehearsals on top of class time. Many students today have to take out loans AND take a job working more than twenty hours a week to afford their college education. Those financial responsibilities add stress and take time away from their studies.

In 2016, 832 of the college’s 1032 undergraduates received financial aid, with 498 of those students having average unmet financial need of $10,673 for the year, which typically translated into student loans. Students from the poorest households often take longer to graduate—or have difficulty graduating at all—because they have to work multiple part-time jobs instead of taking a full credit load. It’s essential that we change the financial equation for our students, to ensure that when Penn State’s door is opened, they are able to walk through and successfully reach the next door—graduation—with minimal student loans.

Through June 2018, the University is providing a 2:1 match on all gifts of $30,000 or more, as part of the Open Doors Scholarship Matching Program. We understand that a gift of that size is not an option for many people but we hope you will consider a gift of any amount—such as to the Arts and Architecture Alumni Society Scholarship. All gifts help us attract talented students to the College of Arts and Architecture and help more current students finish their degrees, without the burden of student loans and part-time jobs. For more information, visit

Thanks, as always, for your support!